Planning Children’s Birthday Parties – Strategy, Themes and Invitations.

When I first started organising children’s birthday parties, I would get a little overwhelmed and not know where to begin. It took me a couple of parties to work out, that I could use the same project management skills that I had used so often in the workplace, at home for their parties.

I broke the job of organising a party into discreet, measurable tasks. This was how I came up with our 10 Point Children’s Birthday Party Plan. The first three steps in this process I will now go through in detail in this post.

(1). Overall Family Birthday Party Strategy.
We only developed a family strategy for planning birthday parties two years ago. To be honest I wish that I done this a lot earlier.

Just prior to the arrival of our fourth child I realised that how we were currently celebrating birthdays was not a situation I was happy with. As a result of enthusiastic new parenting and wanting parity for subsequent children, I found that I had created an expectation in my kids that they would have a big party every year.

This was really untenable and I found it to be too excessive for our family. Mr Infrastructure and I gave the children some prior notice that we would be raising birthday parties as an agenda item, (in particular that it was not going to be tenable to have a large party every year), in our next family meeting.

(A great thing about taking minutes of our family meetings , is that I could quickly flick through the book to find that we discussed this on 26th Feb 2006 and had the notes to copy down what we agreed upon.)

I opened the discussion on the birthday parties and explained why we wanted to find a different way to celebrate birthday parties and then let the children tell me what they thought we could do. (Mr Infrastructure had given his apologies as he was in Sydney.) The older boys both thought that having a party every second year would be a good idea. This was something that Mr I and I had also thought would be workable, so then we negotiated some of the details:

Non Party Year

    – Child gets to choose the dinner (home cooked or take away) on the night of their birthday or the Friday Night night closest to it.
    – They can choose two friends to come and share this.
    – They can choose the type of home made birthday cake they would like.
    – They can choose a DVD to watch after dinner.
    – Mum and Dad would drive their friends home.

Party Year

    – Home based party.
    – 10 – 15 Guests.
    – 2 hours duration maximum.
    – Home made activities and entertainment.

This year for Little Rascal it is a non party year and Babagansouski will have a party. He did have one last year as well, but a 1st birthday party is the exception to this rule. This strategy has only been in place for a couple of years, but I have found it to work really well for us and because we involved the children in the decision making process, they are happy with it too.

As the children get older we will review it again, to make sure we have suitable way of celebrating the children’s birthdays.

(2). Theme

I like to choose a theme for a party for the following reasons:

    – Simplifies decision making.
    – Keeps a co-ordinated feel and flow for the party.
    – Can highlight child’s interests.

I have a personal preference to stay away from commercial themes as I think that they are too expensive and can perhaps limit creativity and inspiration for the party. I have listed below some themes that I have used in the past and some themes from great parties that we have attended:

For the Toddlers (0 – 3).
– Favourite Colour – pink; blue and silver; primary colours;
– Favourite Animal
– Favourite Nursery Rhyme
– Sand
– Water – Luau
– Space

For the Preschooler (4 – 5).
– Butterflies
– Hearts

Lower Primary School (6 -9).
– Sports Parties – Cricket; Football; Netball; Athletics
Beading – Necklace and bracelet making
– Card Making
– Construction – Wooden Kits; Cardboard Boxes
Science Experiments – Potion Making

The age groups obviously cross over and some themes could be used for all ages. The theme provides a link between all aspects of the party, starting from the invitation, food, games, decorations and finishing with the thank yous.

(3). Invitations
Once I have a theme chosen it is then a matter of creating a theme inspired invitation. I like to make my own invitations and a have few different styles that I churn out. They are very basic -graphic design, art and craft are not my forte, but I give it a go and try my best to produce an invitation that reflects a bit of our family personality.

The styles are as follows and I have attached a file at the bottom of the post for you to take a look at.

Photo Invitation
Like most mums, I think my children are the most beautiful in the world. So especially when they are little, I like to place a cute photo on the invite. The below attachment has four invitations to a page.

This one was for Possum and her primary coloured theme 1st birthday party. I cut out the paper invitation and then stuck them onto to brightly coloured card and decorated them around the edge with brightly coloured dots.

When decorating invitations like this, depending on the age of the child, they can help do this or choose the colours. I try to keep the children involved as much as possible with the party preparations.

Heavy Theme Designed Invitation
Little Rascal had a Knight’s Birthday Party for his third birthday. I used a downloaded picture of a shield for the background which is on the first page. Then I wrote the party details on the second page.

When I then cut out a shield, I cut a details page with it, so that I ended u with two shields. I then used double sided tape to join the two together – shield on one side and the words on the other.

Child Designed Invitation
This invitation was for Little Rascal’s Space themed birthday party. He actually drew the picture of the rocket in Paint. This can be found under Accessories in the Start Menu of Microsoft XP.

I inserted the picture and added the words. to Mircosft Word Document Little Rascal then came up with the idea that we fold the invitations into paper planes for delivery. This did mean that they had to be hand delivered of course, but it was a bit of fun for he and Thinker to do this.

I aim to send the invitations out approximately two weeks beofre the date of the party, earlier if I know that it is a busy time of year for families.

Next Thursday I will go through the Guest List and Food List from my 10 Point Children’s Birthday Party Plan.

Feel free to copy and use the invitations below as you desire or if you like send me ideas of what you do. I would love some inspiration.

Birthday Invitation Children’s Design

Birthday Invitation Photo Design

Birthday Invitation Theme Design

2020 EDIT: Or if you would like to send an online invite check out Greetings Island they have a gorgeous range of templates you can use and then manage the RSVP process online as well.